Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “El antropólogo inocente (El antropólogo inocente, #1)” as Want to Read:
El antropólogo inocente (El antropólogo inocente, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

El antropólogo inocente

(The Innocent Anthropologist #1)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,460 ratings  ·  140 reviews
El antropólogo inocente es un texto ciertamente insólito del que se dijo: «Probablemente el libro más divertido que se ha publicado este año. Nigel Barley hace con la antropología lo que Gerald Durrell hizo con la zoología» (David Halloway). El autor, doctorado en antropología por Oxford, se dedicó durante un par de años al estudio de una tribu poco conocida del Camerún, l ...more
Paperback, Crónicas Anagrama , 240 pages
Published February 28th 1994 by Anagrama (first published 1983)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about El antropólogo inocente, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about El antropólogo inocente

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,460 ratings  ·  140 reviews

Sort order
Petra Eggs
There is very little anthropology in this book, but a lot about the somewhat bumbling but terribly well-meaning Nigel Barley goes about conducting it. If you like the British self-deprecating sense of humour where the protagonist is never the hero, never proud of his accomplishments but always falling over things and getting flashes of insight along the way, then you'll like this book.

If you want more anthropology or a more serious recorder of life in the backwoods of an area of Cameroon mission
A bizarrely and unexpectedly funny account of anthropological fieldwork in Cameroon. Not that we get to laugh at the ceramics of another culture but rather the misadventures of Europeans in west Africa.

The author visits a pagan tribe in the back-lands - the Dowayo. He finds a French speaking Christian who works as his translator (disapproving naturally of the pagan ways of his fellow tribesmen) but Nigel Barley's first problem is getting hold of a beer bottle - at the time in Cameroon you could
Jacob Overmark
I am not racist, but ...
Is one of the most common entries to white supremacy bullshit.

However, after much toil and stress Nigel Barley seems to realize that the lifestyle of the Dowayos, in some aspects, were pretty stress free compared to your average daily life in Western Europe. So many choices to make every day back home, “the noble savages” only, occasionally, worrying about the harvest and otherwise drinking and fornicating the life away.

I not too big a fan of this specific kind of anthro
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's been a while since I read a really fun book. The Innocent Anthropologist is not really a deep anthropological work but it does give an insight into the life of the Dowayo tribe of Cameroon. Nigel Barley, a British anthropologist, makes a journey to Cameroon to study the rituals and lives of the Dowayos. This makes for a humorous, entertaining, and informative narrative.

It is the 1980s and Cameroon is entrenched in a bureaucratic administrative system. Barley exploits it to its full farcical
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 09_antropologia
Un antropologo che guarda con occhio ironico (e a volte decisamente comico) e critico il proprio "lavoro sul campo".
Con pieno rispetto (e un pizzico di tenerezza) del popolo che è andato a studiare , scoprendo disagi e pregiudizi e – senza negarli ipocritamente – imparando a conviverci.
Decisamente esilaranti tutte le descrizioni delle peripezie burocratiche, mentre l'occhio dello studioso fa capolino qua e là, discretamente, dimessamente.
If you enjoy this type of humour (which I do, obviously), which I guess is a self deprecating British humour.

Barley starts his book by ridiculing fieldwork, and academic life in general, while explaining that fieldwork is the natural progression from doctorates based on 'library research'. This, along with selecting a location, takes a chapter, and forms the basis for the full extent of the book.

In selecting a location, Barley had narrowed it down to Portuguese Timor, until just as the academic
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Nigel Barley se fue a Camerún y en un año tuvo hepatitis, malaria y unos parásitos que ponen huevos bajo las uñas, se tratan rebanando trozos de carne con una navaja y parecen bastante asquerosetes. Perdió 18 kg y los dos dientes de delante. También pasó meses sin hablar con nadie en frases completas y se aburrió (normal). Su vida sexual fue inexistente, por suerte porque sino seguramente habría vuelto con gonorrea, clamidia y sífilis. No creo que hubiese sido capaz de resistirlo. Resistirlo yo, ...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa, science
" Much has been written on the excellence of bats' navigation equipment. It is all false. Tropical bats spend their entire time flying into obstacles with a horrible thudding noise. They specialize in slamming into walls and falling, fluttering onto your face. As my own 'piece of equipment essential for the field' I would strongly recommend a tennis racket: it is devastatingly effective in clearing a room of bats."
There comes a point in every anthropologist’s career when they have to stop looking at the academic papers or staring out the window and actually head out into the wide world. For Nigel Barley, a colleague posed the question, Why not go on fieldwork? He wasn’t sure if it was one of the perks of the job or a necessary evil like national service. Speaking to others in the department he would hear tales filtered through rose-tinted spectacles where the full horror of events in the field are tempere ...more
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an utterly hilarious account of an anthropologist going off into his first field assignment in Cameroon. He has a wittiness that reminds me, oddly enough, of the way that Hugh Grant's characters often poke fun at themselves in movies. It's totally British, totally honest, and utterly candid.

I kept wanting to underline entire paragraphs, for going back and laughing at them again later. Here are a few of my favorites:

"Young anthropologists know all about missionaries before they've met any
In the early 80s, a British anthropologists finds himself in the middle of nowhere Africa, in the small town of Poli, Cameroon in order to study the Dowayo tribe. Twenty-four years later, a California Peace Corps volunteer (yours truly) finds herself in the same town. What has changed? Not much. Still one dirt road. Still pervasive corruption. Still intense frustration. Still intense happiness and belonging.

This book and its companion ("Ceremony") were left in my mud hut (but I had luckily had s
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The Innocent Anthropologist: Notes from a Mud Hut [1983] by Nigel Barley – ★★★★

In the late 1970s, Nigel Barley went to North Cameroon to study the Dowayos, and choosing those that represent the most “ferocious” mountain tribe existing at that time. This is his debut non-fiction account of his travels and exploration in Africa as he embarks on his fieldwork. In this book, Barley is really an “innocent” anthropologist, an idealistic young man who is a bit ignorant about what to expect in the real
Andrea Samar
Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Este es un libro que me sorprendió bastante. Cuando mi profesor de Métodos de etnografía y diseño nos dijo que íbamos a leer un libro de antropología yo me esperaba una lectura pesada, llena de datos y bastante tediosa. Sin embargo, me encontré con una joya.
Nigel Barley, el autor de este libro, es un antropólogo inglés que, cansado de su vida como maestro, decide pasar al trabajo de campo de la antropología y viajar a África para estudiar por un año a una pequeña población indígena que nadie co
Jose Carlos
Jan 09, 2018 rated it did not like it

Mal libro este para aproximarse por vez primera a la antropología. Y un flaco favor que le hace el prólogo de Alberto Cardín, del cual podemos inferir que nos encontramos ante una obra magna que aúna investigación y diversión, ciencia y sentido del humor puesto que, nos dice, “pocas veces se habrán visto reunidos, en un libro de antropología, un cúmulo tal de situaciones divertidas, referidas con inimitable humor y gracia, y una competencia etnográfica tan afina
Als junger Ethnologe unterrichtet Nigel Barley an einer britischen Universität, bis ihm ein Kollege die entscheidende Frage stellt: “Warum machst Du dann nicht Feldforschung”? Schließlich sind die Feldforscher doch die Obergurus der Ethnologie! Kaum ist die Entscheidung gefällt und das zu untersuchende Volk, die Dowayo im nördlichen Kamerun, ausgewählt, holt die Bürokratie Barley wieder auf den Boden der Tatsachen und jegliche Ethnologenromantik ist schnell dahin. Wie wird es ihm in Afrika ergeh ...more
This is the most entertaining book I've read all year. And I spent my vacation reading P.G. Wodehouse.

This book is an anthropological monograph. This is apparently an entire genre of literature, and this is the first one of them that I've ever read. The idea is that you go out to some third world village that nobody knows anything about, you live among the people, and then you come back and write about it.

Barley comes at this from a bit of an angle. First, he apparently was a theoretical anthrop
César Lasso
Apr 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you thought "anthopology" sounds like a boring subject, read this one and laugh out loud.

Me pareció un fascinante y divertidísimo estudio sobre el choque de culturas (en este caso, la occidental y la de una primitiva tribu del Camerún) sin prejuicios o la superioridad que cabe esperarse cuando escribe un occidental.
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Cuenta las peripecias del autor durante su primer trabajo de campo entre los dowayo de Camerún. Similar al estilo de Gerald Durrell pero en Antropología.
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, humour
For people who like reading about researchers who are living in mud huts while they, the reader, live in a modern apartment.

Reasons for going on field trips number one..
For example, I had a colleague who claimed to have had the most marvelous time with agreeable, smiling natives bringing gifts of fruit and flowers by the basketful. But the inner chronology of the stay was provided by statements of the form, ‘That happened after I got food poisoning’

Are the people available to study...?
With delay
Alex Sarll
The sort of exposé which either makes or breaks your career, and fortunately made Barley’s. He set out to write a book containing all the stuff other anthropologists left out, and which he wished he’d known ahead of his first fairly disastrous attempt at fieldwork among the Dowayo of Cameroon. He ended up with something that’s full of laughs for the general reader – a sort of non-fiction Evelyn Waugh, minus the spite. And indeed, it’s hard at times to remember this was written in the eighties ra ...more
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mar 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, wwc-uk
Las aventuras y desventuras de Nigel Barley han sido un maravilloso descubrimiento. Quizás no tan divertidas como las imaginaba por la sinopsis, pero sin duda informativas, entretenidas y muy recomendables.

Supongo que ahora pasaré horas y horas googleando a los dowayos y a los fulani. Por saber, que no quede.
Nov 13, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anthropologists
Shelves: athropology
Read this one as a course textbook for my athropology class. And though it was good, I can't say it's for everyone. It was funny and quick paced and you can get a good insight of an anthropological research.
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: class
Miren no han acabado los exámenes pero como no tenía nada mejor que hacer (mentira) me lo he acabado y me ha gustado mucho, me he reído bastante y la verdad es que se me ha hecho una lectura amena, que no suele ocurrir con las lecturas obligatorias.
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enlightening read of the challenges a bit so enthusiastic anthropologist faces in West Africa. Enjoyable , funny and educational.
Mar 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anthropology, africa
Nigel Barley isn't sure he wants to do actual fieldwork as an anthropologist, but since it seems to be expected, and he's got nothing else particularly interesting to do, he goes to Africa to study the culture of the Dawayo people. The book is a mixture of memoir, cultural observation and self-deprecating humor. Barley lays bare the fairly selfish and sometimes wrong-headed motivations of anthropologists from the beginning of the book, but his fieldwork is clearly thorough and complete. The book ...more
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tongue firmly in cheek, the author writes of an anthropological foray into the depths of Cameroon. Great because he manages to simultaneously a) take nobody, including himself, too seriously, b) convey a ton of ethnographic information, and c) be funny. Although I expect he could have included more detailed information by maintaining an academic tone and avoiding tales of his own exploits and mishaps, this is much more accessible for its chatty—and rather Britishly fatalistic—tone.
Simon Hollway
Oct 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, 2014-top-ten
The Noel Coward of anthropology produces a Whitehall farce that should be packaged as an obligatory companion piece to anything and everything by Claude Levi-Strauss.
Samue l
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: england
"Salí del despacho dando trapiés, mareado de incredulidad. Así debió de sentirse Moisés cuando Dios le entregó las tablas".
Ryan Murdock
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nigel Barley was a rather unhappy “desk anthropologist” at a British university.

His fieldwork-hardened older colleagues never stopped reminding him of this, because back in their day, it wasn’t enough to camp out in a library cordoned off by stacks of journals. You had to get out and live with the natives.

I can relate to Barley, in a sense. Not just because I read Anthropology at uni, but because I had one of those fathers who walked ten miles to school through waist-deep snow, carrying his sis
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Mountain People
  • The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art
  • Writing Women's Worlds: Bedouin Stories
  • In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture
  • Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing
  • Return to Laughter: An Anthropological Novel
  • Tales of the Field: On Writing Ethnography
  • The Life of My Choice
  • Available Light: Anthropological Reflections on Philosophical Topics
  • The Black Man's Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation-State
  • The Harmless People
  • Myths and Legends of the Sioux
  • Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria
  • Argonauts of the Western Pacific
  • Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire
  • African Exodus: The Origins of Modern Humanity
  • Abyssinian Chronicles
  • The Viceroy of Ouidah

Other books in the series

The Innocent Anthropologist (2 books)
  • A Plague of Caterpillars (The Innocent Anthropologist #2)
“Much has been written on the excellence of bats' navigation equipment. It is all false. Tropical bats spend their entire time flying into obstacles with a horrible thudding noise. They specialize in slamming into walls and falling, fluttering onto your face. As my own 'piece of equipment essential for the field' I would strongly recommend a tennis racket; it is devastatingly effective in clearing a room of bats.” 3 likes
“I had made an early policy decision to drink the native beer despite the undoubted horrors of the process of fabrication. On my very first visit to a Dowayo beer party, this was put severely to the test. "Will you have beer?" I was asked. "Beer is furrowed," I replied, having got the tones wrong. "He said 'yes' ", my assistant replied in a tired voice. They were amazed. No white man, at this time, had ever been known to touch beer. Seizing a calabash, they proceeded to wash it out in deference to my exotic sensibilities. They did this by offering it to a dog to lick out. Dowayo dogs are not beautiful at the best of times; this one was particularly loathsome, emaciated, open wounds on its ears where flies feasted, huge distended ticks hanging from its belly. It licked the calabash with relish. It was refilled and passed to me. Everyone regarded me, beaming expectantly. There was nothing to be done; I drained it and gasped out my enjoyment. Several more calabashes followed.” 2 likes
More quotes…